I vividly remember the day in class when we rotated tables and read introductions to numerous different novels, then shared out to our peers. I couldn’t understand why it was so crucial to Mrs. Maguire that we read a novel written by an African American Author. How could a novel be so much different just because it was written by African American author? Reading this book showed me how very wrong I was in thinking that. Their Eyes Were Watching God was challenging for me to get through, I had to read many chapters, paragraphs, sentences multiple times to ensure I knew what was happening throughout the novel. The diction, jargon and colloquialisms used throughout the text was something I had never been exposed to before. All said and done, reading this novel has made me a stronger reader, and I thank Mrs. Maguire for being so persistent on us reading a novel outside of our comfort zone.
The story begins with Janie, an African American women, being raised by her “Nanny” or grandmother. Nanny has always wanted Janie to be in a secure situation, so she proposes that Janie marry a man named Logan because he can provide for her. Janie hesitates, but reaches the conclusion that even though she doesn’t love him now maybe after they get married and they spend time together the love will form in her heart. Janie leaves Logan as she realizes that it isn’t love and she doesn’t want to be unhappy for the rest of her life.
Next comes Joe Starks, he becomes mayor of the town they move to and the dominating nature stems from there. He constantly belittles Janie, and makes her feel unworthy. Accumulating to the point of physical violence, this relationship all around is a tragedy. Janie learns a lot about herself during this relationship. She discovers her own personal feelings about how a women is and is not to be treated; she learns when it is necessary to stand up for herself and speak her mind. Joe eventually gets sick and passes away, leaving Janie alone and wiser than ever.
Then comes along Tea Cake, the one Janie has been waiting for all her life. Tea Cake finally gives Janie a voice, freedom, and a purpose. Tea Cake supports Janie’s dreams, and the development of Janie’s sense of self. Janie has finally found happiness. Teacake may not have been as wealthy as Janie’s previous husbands but Teacake has inner wealth and knowledge that Janie has never been exposed to. When an unfortunate incident takes place, this beautiful relationship ends abruptly and dreadfully, but you will just have to read it to find that one out.
All in all this is a great book emphasizing on love, relationships, independence and sense of self. It is a generally slow paced novel with exciting moments thrown in during essential parts of the plot. I would encourage any readers to push through it even when there are parts that aren’t exactly the most exciting. The story starts out slightly confusing, but I promise it gets better. Also the dramatic parts can sometimes seem rushed but the plot itself is still very strong. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a new perspective on writing or reading, or anyone looking for a good novel on women empowerment. Zora Hurston does a wonderful job crafting this piece.
Book review written by Lauren Henry- Lauren Henry is a competitive dancer and varsity golfer at Novi High School. She enjoys working hard at school, hanging out with friends and spending time with her family.